Exam Requirements / Eligibility
To be eligible to sit for a CPA examination, a candidate has to meet the following criteria:
- Attain the minimum age of 18 years with a good moral character.
- Be a graduate from an accredited college or university with a Master’s or a Bachelor’s degree with Accounting as the main subject. The candidate also must produce the original certificate, in most states electronic transcripts are not accepted.
- A minimum of 150 semester hours of education in a discipline with Accounting as the major subject.
- Minimum two years of work experience in any industry like education, Government, public accounting, etc. The work experience has to be certified by the CPA authority.
Typically, a CPA examination consists of 4 sections – Audit and Attestation, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Business Environment and Concepts and Regulation. The details of the different sections are provided below:
|Auditing and Attestation||4 hours||3 sets of MCQ with a total of 90 questions. 1 test set with 7 TBSs.||In this section knowledge of auditing procedures, auditing standards, other standards are included. Skills for applying the knowledge in various engagements is also tested in this section.|
|Business Environment and Concepts||3 hours||3 sets of MCQ with a total of 72 questions. 1 test set with 3 written communication tasks||This section includes knowledge of generic business environment and various business concepts are included. The candidates need to know the underlying business reasons and the implications of different business transactions in accounting.|
|Financial Accounting and Reporting||4 hours||3 sets of MCQ with a total of 90 questions. 1 test set with 7 TBSs||In this section, knowledge of general accounting principles used by business enterprises, non-profit organizations, Government entities and the skills for applying the knowledge in a business environment is tested.|
|Regulation||3 hours||3 sets of MCQ with a total of 72 questions. 1 test set with 7 TBSs||This section includes knowledge of federal taxation, professional and legal responsibilities, ethics, business law and skills for applying the knowledge in a business environment.|
To register for the CPA examination, follow the below mentioned steps:
1. Collect and send all official certificates
First and foremost, collect all certificates of colleges and universities and arrange to submit the same at your state’s CPA examination centre to fast track the application process.
2. Fill and submit the CPA exam application form along with the application fee
Next, fill the CPA examination application form and submit the same along with the application fee. Usually, the application fee is $100 to $200 but the same varies from state to state.
3. Receive the Authorization to Test (ATT) from your State Board
Most of the states give you 90 days to decide which sections you want to sit in. The application fees will be forfeited if this decision is not provided within 90 days. The fees for all 4 sections ranges from $700 to $1000 in general in most states.
4. Receive the Notice to Schedule (NTS) from NASBA
This is the official document which authorizes you to take the CPA exam in the United States. Usually, this should reach you within 3 to 6 weeks, however in some states if you apply online, you can get it the same day. Each state has its own NTS validation period within which you have to take the test in all the four sections you have paid for. This validation period varies from state to state.
5. Schedule your exam
Visit the Prometric Website (https://www.prometric.com/en-us/clients/cpa/Pages/landing.aspx) and schedule your exam. Click on the ‘Schedule My Test’ button and choose the state you want to take the test in. You can choose the date and time of your examination.
It is possible to reschedule your examination as well, however, in some cases, you might have to pay a penalty. If you reschedule 30 days or more in advance, you don’t need to pay any penalty. However, if you reschedule between 5 to 30 days in advance, you need to pay $35 as the reschedule fees. In case you need to reschedule within 1 to 5 days in advance, you will be charged the entire fees as the penalty. Rescheduling less than 24 hours before the exam is not permitted.
6. Take the exam
Do remember to bring the Notice to Schedule with you to the Prometric Testing Centre, otherwise you will not be allowed to take the exam. You would also need to produce two types of identification at the test centre, one of which should contain your recent photograph. Both the IDs should be valid and should have your valid signatures.
Exam Date & Schedule
The CPA examination is conducted in the first two months of every quarter of each calendar year. These are called ‘Testing Windows’. The third month of each month is a ‘Black Out Month’ when no examinations are conducted. The blackout months include March, June, September and December. A candidate can take all the four sections of the examination during any of the test windows. However, a candidate cannot take the same section more than once during a particular testing window.
For choosing the order of the CPA examination sections, there are many suggestions and theories. However, it is entirely a candidate’s comfort level on the basis of which the order should be decided.
It is a known notion that a CPA exam is one of the most difficult professional licensing tests globally. Although a candidate can take one section at a time, the examination is extremely rigorous and almost 50% of candidates fail to clear the examination. From this statistic, you can clearly understand how crucial it is for you to enrol into a rigorous college accounting programme.
Thinking positive is the key to conquer the CPA examination. It is important to take the pre-test questions. Knowing that you can do it is very important. Also, knowing that half the people appearing for the examination fail to clear the same is also very important. Don’t be disheartened if you fail to clear a section – there’s always a second chance.
To apply for a CPA examination a candidate must be minimum 18 years of age. There are no other age limit criteria for the CPA examination.
Before Graduation Or After Graduation
A CPA examination can only be taken after graduation since 150 semester hours and a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree is considered to be a pre-requirement for applying for the CPA examination.